30 April 2009

Andrew Peterson - Family Man

Great song; great message. I love being a family man!

18 April 2009

The Deification of Spices, Or, Whatever Happened to Dylan McDermott?

Heidi and I watched The Mistress of Spices the other day, and I have to admit, I was disappointed. The plot was just, well, lame. Tilo (Aishwarya Rai) is a "mistress of spices," which means that as a young girl, she was trained (in addition to having the ability to see the near future) to know all spices, their uses, and to be able to communicate with the spices. She is not allowed to touch other people, leave her shop, or ever to use the spices for herself.

She lives in Oakland, where she lives at and manages her spice shop, Spice Bazaar. One day, a wealthy architect, Doug (Dylan McDermott) notices Tilo, and (surprise!) love at first sight.
Some time later, he has a motorcycle accident in front of the Spice Bazaar, which necessitates Tilo binding his wounds with a special healing spice mixture. She falls in love with him, too, beginning a time of disobedience to the spices. All her spices have a contrary effect on her customers, so she must repent and re-dedicate her life and service to the spices.

The ultimate conflice arises when Tilo must decide between being faithful to the spices or faithful to her heart in allowing a relationship with Doug.

SPOILER ALERT: Here's how it ends: Tilo chooses Doug, which nearly gets her good friend, Haroun (Nitin Ganatra, one of my favorite Indian actors) killed. She and Doug touch, and she leaves the shop to see San Francisco. Her spices start to die, and in an earthquake, she nearly dies until it is revealed (by the spirit of her spice guru) that she has proven faithful to the spices, so she can be with Doug AND have her successful spice shop.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there would be eastern mysticism in a movie about a psychic girl trained to communicate with peppers and powders and seeds. I just thought that the whole concept of the spices having a god-like status was strange and a little ridiculous. Throughout the movie, Tilo has a conversation with the spices (presumably as unspoken thoughts) in which she apologizes to them, begs them for mercy, and expresses her devotion to them.

But there is some truth for the Christian to latch onto. Disobedience can lead to unintended consequences (though not in a karmic way as in the movie) such as stained relationships and personal pain. Sinning against the sovereign requires atonement (though, again, the sovereign is not the created, but the Uncreated Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). And though one may occasionally disobey (even in a major way), what matters most is faithfulness to God and getting up after you fall down.

Anyway, it was okay.

15 April 2009

Should We Push for Prayer in Public Schools?

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

Here are some random thoughts I have about the perceived need many of us have for getting prayer/the study of the Bible back into public schools:
  • this effort is misdirected. For what purpose are we wanting prayer in schools? So that all those unbelievers will suddenly start sincerely praying to God and will come to Christ? So that revival will break out in schools across the country? Not likely; mandating prayer may only serve to make people resent us more and believe that we want to convert by any means necessary.
  • perhaps we should work on getting more prayer in church and at home before we worry about the schools, as if that's the place for moral and religious education.
  • is there not already prayer in schools? Christians can pray anytime, anywhere, and those children who have been taught well will know this and can pray during class, before lunch, and even during conversations with other students.
  • we use an argument that can be effectively used against us. When we argue that evolution is wrong and should not be taught in part because Hitler used its premise to justify the Holocaust, we are saying, in effect, that teaching something which has been hijacked by people who do evil in the name of evolution is wrong. People could counter with this: the Bible has been used to justify some pretty evil things that go against the teachings and spirit of Jesus Christ. If people do evil in the name of Christ, then the Bible should not be taught in school, either.
  • the way to persuade people of the validity and effectiveness of a Christian worldview is not to try to make rules getting people to behave like us but to live a life of consistent love of God and of neighbor. Your life is a greater testimony that many, many debates and arguments.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Randall Balmer has gotten to me (probably not). But it seems that "getting God into public schools again" is a scenario based on misinformation: he never left. It is debatable that Christian fervor really thrived when prayer was in school. Lest I be branded a heretic or something, I will say that there is an anti-Christian bias in public schools, but I affirm that the answer is not to respond with a martyr complex while trying to legislate theology.

Am I wrong?

10 April 2009

For This Christ Died? (a repost from last year)

Easter, like most holidays here in America, tends to be marked

by mixed messages. There is truth, and there is all the crap on sale at Wal-Mart.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,

so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21)

"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4-5)

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,

for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.' He redeemed us

in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus,

so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit"

(Galatians 3:13-14)

"And they sang a song: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,

because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation. . . . Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'"

(Rev. 5:9-10, 12)

The contrast is phenomenal, is it not? Now, the Easter bunny is not the Antichrist, nor is Easter egg hunting a sin. But, as is the case for most holidays, we need to stay focused on the source of the holiday and the true meaning. Easter is a bouquet of truths given to us by God. Lean in and savor them for yourself:

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

"The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many."

"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out in a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last."

"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."

"For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him."

"For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. . . . But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."

"Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."